I am currently working on my comprehensive exams and just completed a practice question. My comprehensive exams focus on Educational Leadership for Learning and while I was answering the question I noticed how often I referenced the observation process. I knew that our process created opportunities for us to participate in leadership, but writing about it has revealed to me just how many leadership opportunities our observation process creates.
The requirement of ten walkthroughs a week forces us to get out from behind our desk and move throughout the building.
For the administration, frequent classroom observations have provided us with a process to know what takes place in our building. The requirement of ten walkthroughs a week forces us to get out from behind our desk and move throughout the building. The comments I receive about the increased visibility of our administrative staff and how our teachers appreciate us being in the halls and observing classrooms enhances the family atmosphere we value so much at our school.
The relationships that are formed through casual conversation with our teachers and our students create a foundation for positive interaction among everyone in the building. I often have parents mention to me during conversation that their student talks to them about the visibility of the administration in the halls and in their classrooms. The parents I have spoken with appreciate that we are out moving around making sure their students are safe and are working hard in the classroom.
When I speak with parents regarding their student I can often speak about events I have witnessed or events I have personal knowledge of as a result of my encounters with their student in the hall or in the classroom. When parents know that I make the effort to be in the halls and visit classrooms so that I have accurate information about what we are doing in school it provides them with a level of comfort that the Principal actually knows what he is talking about. Parents also feel more comfortable with us and with our school when they know that their concerns regarding teachers or specific classes will be reviewed and addressed when appropriate. Frequent visits to classrooms provide us with real-time information regarding teacher performance and classroom practice so that if there are concerns we can address those concerns appropriately.
I have many conversations with parents who allege certain things occur in class that I can intelligently speak about because I have been in that room.
Teachers also appreciate frequent classroom visits for much the same reason as parents. Teachers have expressed to me that it is reassuring to them that when students and/or parents express concerns regarding their class – the administration can have informed conversations regarding what has been observed in that class. I have many conversations with parents who allege certain things occur in class that I can intelligently speak about because I have been in that room. Students go home and tell their parents their personal recollection of events, procedures, or actions that routinely occur in the class in question and I am able to support the teacher when appropriate simply because I have been in that room several times and have been witness to the routine practice that occurs.
Our frequent visits to classrooms provide us with an increased level of credibility when we have conversations with teachers. Our process provides the administration with opportunities to praise teachers for the exemplary work they do and our teachers have expressed to us that they feel the praise is sincere and genuine because we have spent time in their room. We attempt to focus our observation comments on the positive things we observe in class and that tends to build a trusting relationship with those we work with. As those relationships mature the business of leadership is much more efficient.
The relationships I have discussed and the conversations that result provide opportunities for us to practice and improve upon our leadership. I mentioned earlier in the blog that I was currently preparing for my comprehensive exams. Distributed Leadership is a significant focus in my program. Working through the program has afforded me the opportunity to critically look at my leadership capacity and how I practice distributed leadership. I have made a conscious effort to improve upon my distributed leadership practice attempting to build capacity in other administrators and in our teacher leaders. Incorporating the leadership capacity of others into my leadership practice has created a unique sense of satisfaction that I have only recently experienced.
I truly believe our teachers feel empowered to step-up and assume leadership roles among their peers and in our school.
Building leadership capacity in others has enriched my leadership experiences. I truly believe our teachers feel empowered to step-up and assume leadership roles among their peers and in our school. I see and hear our teachers assuming leadership roles for the various initiatives we have in our building and working to promote those positive relationships among those they work with. Our small learning communities are operating in a manner that is effective for teacher development and student learning. Our instructional initiatives are more effective and are resulting in increased student success. Our process is encouraging us to continuously improve upon what we do at school.
I feel our observation process has been very influential in shaping our mission and vision and how we conduct business at our school. Our routines and procedures have been continuously examined to ensure we are doing all things possible to provide students with opportunities to be successful. We have made a conscious effort to build leadership capacity in others so that what we do is a product of the collective potential of all that work in our building. It has been my experience that when you involve others in the leadership of the building they are more likely to believe in the process and work hard to make it better because it is their own. That ownership provides them with a sense of purpose and a sense of satisfaction when positive results are realized. It is our school and our work that move us forward.